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Defensor-Santiago vs Sandiganbayan (April 18, 2001)

Ponente: Vitug

Facts:
-October 1988, Miriam Defensor Santiago, who was then Commissioner of the Commission of Immigration
and Deportation (CID)
-She approved the application for legalisation of the stay of about 32 aliens
-Her act was said to be illegal with bad faith and violated Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act
-Such act also violated EO 324 which prohibits the legalization of disqualified aliens
-Santiago knew that such aliens were disqualified
-There were 2 other criminal cases against her
-Garchitorena, presiding Justice of Sandiganbayan, issued a warrant of arrest against Santiago, which she
posted bail on
-Sandiganbayan set an arraignment
-Santiago’s petition for provisional liberty since she was just recovering from her car accident was approved
-1995, motion to suspend Santiago was filed with Sandiganbayan, who was a Senator by then
-Sandiganbayan ordered Senate President Maceda to suspend Santiago from office for 90 days

Issue: W/N Sandiganbayan can suspend Santiago, a member of the Senate

Ruling: YES. The Doctrine of Separation of Powers did not exclude members of Congress from Sec. 13 of
The Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Law, which provides suspension for public officers for offenses of
fraud upon government.
-Sandiganbayan did not err in assailing preventive suspension order.
-The suspension from the Act is distinct from the power of Congress to discipline its members (according
to Art. 6 Sec. 16 of Constitution)
-It is a ministerial duty of the Court to suspend upon determination of the validity of the information filed
before it, and once it’s sufficient, it can order suspension.
Even if she committed the act as CID Commissioner, she can still be suspended as a Senator because the
Act did not state the she be suspended only in the office where she committed the unlawful acts.
-The suspension in Art. 6 Sec. 16 is a punitive measure that is imposed upon by Senate or Lower House
upon an erring member while the suspension from the Act is not a penalty, but a preliminary, preventive
measure.
-First Division of Sandiganbayan acquitted her.

Notes:
-Art. 6 Sec. 16, that each house may determine the rules of its proceedings, punish its Members for
disorderly behaviour, and with the concurrence of 2/3 of all its Members, suspend, or expel a Member. A
penalty of suspension, when imposed, shall not exceed 60 days.
-Sec. 13 of Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Law, Suspension and loss of benefits. – any incumbent public
officer against whom any criminal prosecution under a valid information under this Act or under Title 7,
Book II of the Revised Penal Code or for any offense involving fraud upon government or public funds or
property whether as a simple or as a complex offense and in whatever stage of execution and mode of
participation, is pending in court, shall be suspended from office. Should he be convicted by final judgment,
he shall lose all retirement or gratuity benefits under any law, but if he is acquitted, he shall be entitled to
reinstatement and to the salaries and benefits which he failed to receive during suspension, unless in the
meantime administrative proceedings have been filed against him
-SC established the internal discipline powers is NOT exclusive, other bodies if it so warrants by law can
suspend sitting members of ANY office even though she was charged when her act was when she was
Commissioner and now as a Senator. This is just a suspension for 90 days.
-What if Santiago was going to be convicted?
She cannot be arrested as long as penalty is below 6 years.